Ahead of 2020, Koch-backed group considers backing some Democrats

Americans for Prosperity, the electoral superhouse backed by Charles Koch that’s poured tens of millions of dollars into electing Republican lawmakers and shaping the political landscape in Washington, is now open to backing any candidate in line with its policies, regardless of political party, according to an internal memo first obtained by CNBC.

Founded in 2004 and funded by David and Charles Koch – who are worth about $40 billion each, according to Forbes – AFP has become one of the most influential conservative political organizations in the U.S.

During the 2018 midterm elections, AFP and its SuperPAC affiliate spent a cumulative $15.3 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that money, $0 was in support of Democratic candidates, while $11.2 million was spent on opposing Democrats. Conversely, $0 was spent opposing Republicans, while the organization poured $4.1 million into backing Republicans.

“Recent experiences have shown when AFP unites with anyone to do right – regardless of political party – we can lead effective and diverse coalitions of people and groups to help achieve meaningful public policy victories,” AFP CEO Emily Seidel said in the letter to staff.

During the 2016 presidential election, however, the Koch donor network sought to distance itself from President Trump and signaled that they won’t support his re-election bid in 2020, as reported by Fox News. In turn, the president has criticized the billionaire industrialists as a “globalists” and “total joke.”

Now, the organization will back incumbent Democrats in line with its political views who are facing challenges in the upcoming congressional election primaries, potentially thwarting progressive primary upsets, like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who unseated long-time Rep. Joe Crowley.

One of the issues that the foundation is expected to focus on in the upcoming elections includes immigration -- in April, the Koch network pushed for bipartisan talks in an ad worth more than $1 million to help protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants known as DREAMers from deportation, according to Politico.


“The threat of being primaried prevents policymakers from leading on difficult issues and driving principled policy reforms. AFP or AFP Action will be ready to engage contested U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and state-level primary races, including Republican, Democrat, Independent or otherwise, to support sitting legislators who lead by uniting with others to pass principled policy and get good things done,” Seidel wrote in the memo.